HOAville embraces License Plate Reader cameras

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


In September 2018, the manufacturer of security cameras with license plate readers started promoting his startup business. At the time, I sounded the alarm about Flock Safety’s plan to market the cameras to HOAs. (Competitors are sure to follow)

In that post, I addressed several potential problems with handing over license plate data to a handful of board members of HOA-governed communities.

Now that the business is off the ground, the Denver Post reports that 10 HOAs in Colorado are monitoring the comings and goings in their private community enclaves.


Making residents feel safe?

In the Denver Post, Richard Warshaw, president of the Bel-Aire Estates Owners Association (Aurora, CO), admits that crime isn’t exactly a major problem in his 75-home community. In fact, they’ve experienced only one incident in 15 years. But Warshaw says that three license plate readers make homeowners feel safer.

Albert Gidari, a director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, is less enthused about the idea of private citizens monitoring each vehicle, cyclist or pedestrian entering their neighborhood.

And Steve Beaty, a professor specializing in data security at MSU Denver echoes my concerns about who will have access to license plate data and video surveillance images.

More importantly, what will HOA board members, security guards, or managers do with that information?


Who’s has access to images?

Garrett Langley, Flock Safety founder and CEO, designed the solar-powered, motion-activated camera system to capture images of license plates on vehicles traveling up to 75 miles per hour.

The HOA owns the data and decides who has access to it. Langley explains that his company never sees the images, which are automatically stored in the cloud, and deleted after 30 days.

But, there are no safeguards built into the system to prevent abuse of the time-stamped images by HOA board members and their official agents. Such data can be easily misused to snoop on an unpopular neighbor, or to blackmail adversaries, for instance.

At the same time, security cameras monitoring “outsiders” with license plate readers, do absolutely nothing to deter or record criminal or nuisance activities of HOA insiders, inlcuding allies of the board.

For more insights, see this previous post:

New surveillance camera startup plans to serve HOAs – what could go wrong?


News Source:

Denver-area neighborhoods are installing license plate readers to record every vehicle that passes by
At least 10 neighborhoods in the metro area have installed the technology
By ELISE SCHMELZER | eschmelzer@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: July 9, 2019 at 2:50 pm | UPDATED: July 15, 2019 at 7:10 pm

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